Just over three years ago, Catasauqua police officer Scott M. Rothrock responded to a call that changed his life. After a chase through several municipalities, he was brutally stabbed by a man wielding a large butcher knife.
One stab wound entered Rothrock’s left armpit, away from his protective vest. He went through multiple — by his count nine — surgeries and too many stitches to count. The wound has left him without any feeling on a couple of his left fingers, he said.
The incident ended his career.
“I was never released to go back to work,” said Rothrock, who retired last month from the Catasauqua department.
On Wednesday, Rothrock was recognized by A-Treat Soda as its 2018 Hero for his bravery during the chase. Rothrock will receive a $10,000 donation to the Fraternal Order of Police Le-Hampton Lodge 35, which represents officers from most communities in Lehigh and Northampton counties. In addition, his face will be featured on A-Treat’s 20-ounce cream soda bottles.
“I was really speechless and honored at the same time,” Rothrock said of the honor. “You go into the line of duty in your job and you don’t expect anything from it, and the life-changing situation that happened. It’s a perfect ending … this A-Treat Hero.”
In a news release, A-Treat said Rothrock received more than 2,000 votes of 6,000 votes cast during the North Whitehall Township soda-maker’s inaugural contest.
Rothrock, 39, who grew up in Catasauqua, said fellow officer Donald J. Stratton III nominated him for the award. Stratton was one of several policemen who responded to the Feb. 23, 2015 incident, which began when Jerome D. Nichols stabbed his ex-girlfried in Whitehall Township and then led officers on a pursuit.
Rothrock was the first to confront Nichols after Nichols crashed his vehicle into a snowbank on Plymouth Street in east Allentown. Rothrock shot Nichols with his Taser, but that didn’t stop Nichols, who turned and started to stab Rothrock with the knife. Two other officers shot and killed Nichols, and after an investigation, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin ruled that officers were justified in the fatal shooting.
A-Treat launched its Heroes campaign in January, seeking Lehigh Valley residents who have made a substantive, yet unrecognized, contribution to the community. A-Treat selected finalists from the initial entries and opened the final selection to fan voting on social media, which ended Friday. The other finalists are:
- Betty Duffy, volunteer with Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County
- Matthew Brett, Kempton Fire Company chief
- Barb Martucci, founder of Smiles by Sarah
- Scott Marshall, charitable musician and songwriter
- Donna Jacobsen, founder of HOPE (for Heroin Opioid Prevention Education)
A-Treat said each finalist will receive $500 toward the charities of their choice. The company said that one of its goals in holding the competition was to inspire more people to volunteer in the community.